Revised License Committee Report for March 2009

alvbi at alvbi at
Sat Mar 21 04:01:08 UTC 2009

Quoting John Cowan <cowan at>:

> Almost certainly not.  The whole point of license
> termination is to allow
> the author, or his heirs, to recapture a copyright that was
> imprudently
> licensed away.  Consequently, any provision of any
> license claiming to
> override it is unlikely to work.


But note that abandonment != license.

Stephen Fishman, The Public Domain (4th ed., Nolo, 2008), p. 58: 

There is no prescribed formula for dedicating a work to the public domain. The author or other copyright owner simply has to make clear his or her intentions. For example, stating "This work is dedicated to the public domain" on a book or article's title page would be sufficient. It's not even necessary to make the dedication in writing. It could be done orally, but it's always best to write something down to avoid possible misunderstandings. 

M. L. Cross, Abandonment of statutory copyright (84 A.L.R.2d 462): 
It is widely recognized that the "proprietor" or owner of a statutory copyright may abandon it. National Comics Publications, Inc. v Fawcett Publications, Inc. (1951, CA2 NY) 191 F2d 594; Hampton v Paramount Pictures Corp. (1960, CA9 Cal) 279 F2d 100, 84 ALR2d 454, cert den 364 US 882, 5 L ed 2d 103, 81 S Ct 170; Harper & Bros. v M. A. Donohue & Co. (1905, CC Ill) 144 F 491, affd without op (CA7) 146 F 1023; West Pub. Co. v Edward Thompson Co. (1909, CC NY) 169 F 833, mod on other grounds (CA2) 176 F 833; Deward & Rich, Inc. v Bristol Sav. & L. Corp. (1940, DC Va) 34 F Supp 345, affd (CA4) 120 F2d 537; Sieff v Continental Auto Supply, Inc. (1941, DC Minn) 39 F Supp 683; Group Publishers, Inc. v Winchell (1949, DC NY) 86 F Supp 573; Wrench v Universal Pictures Co. (1952, DC NY) 104 F Supp 374; Mills Music, Inc. v Cromwell Music, Inc. (1954, DC NY) 126 F Supp 54; Trifari, Krussman & Fishel, Inc. v B. Steinberg-Kaslo Co. (1956, DC NY) 144 F Supp 577. See
 Holt Howard Associates, Inc. v Goldman (1959, DC NY) 177 F Supp 611, infra, § 3, and Public Affairs Associates, Inc. v Rickover (1960) 109 App DC 128, 284 F2d 262, vacated on other grounds 369 US 111, 7 L ed 2d 604, 82 S Ct 580, infra, § 2[b]. 


• Abandonment of copyright requires an intent by the copyright holder to surrender rights in the work and an overt act evidencing that intent. Capitol Records, Inc. v. Naxos of America, Inc., 372 F.3d 471 (2d Cir. 2004).

• To establish abandonment of copyright, an infringer must demonstrate: (1) an intent by the copyright holder to surrender rights in its work; and (2) an overt act evidencing that intent. Paramount Pictures Corp. v. Carol Pub. Group, 11 F. Supp. 2d 329 (S.D. N.Y. 1998), order aff'd, 181 F.3d 83 (2d Cir. 1999). 

• In submitting building design, architect clearly and unambiguously manifested his intent to abandon any copyright protection over that particular design; architect signed a letter stating that he "reserve[d] no patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret, or other intellectual property rights in any of the material that forms or is contained in [his] proposal." Oravec v. Sunny Isles Luxury Ventures L.C., 469 F. Supp. 2d 1148 (S.D. Fla. 2006). 

"All requests pertaining to the planned publication of materials from Einstein's writings should be sent to the Albert Einstein Archives. Please refer to the following price lists."



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